Movie: "Tropic Thunder"
Year: 2008
Rated: R
Genre: Comedy
Directed by: Ben Stiller
Writing credits: Ben Stiller, Justin Theroux, Etan Cohen

Reviewer: Protoclown
Posted: 8/19/2008

Plot: After his war movie gets canceled by a domineering studio boss, rookie filmmaker Damien Cockburn drops his spoiled actors into the middle of the Vietnam jungle to make his movie more authentic. They think they're still making a movie even when their lives are in real danger.

Review: Being a big fan of Ben Stiller, Robert Downey Jr., and Jack Black, I was really looking forward to Tropic Thunder after I first heard about it, and I'm very happy to report that it doesn't disappoint. Downey Jr's performance here is particularly impressive as he plays a method actor who never breaks character until the movie is done. He's hilarious in his in-movie role as a black man, but fortunately there's a real black man (a fictional rapper named Alpa Chino) along for the ride to keep his bullshit in check. Stiller is pretty on par with most of his other performances, but his direction is particularly spot-on. If there's a weak link here, it's Jack Black, which is a shame as I normally really enjoy him in movies, but the only moment in this film where he truly cracked me up was the scene where he was tied to a tree, and we'll just leave it at that to avoid spoilers.

The movie opens with a series of fake trailers that introduce us to our "actors" and parody various movie franchises, and perhaps the best of the three was the Jack Black one that made fun of the stupid, stupid movies that Eddie Murphy has been making in recent years. But the Robert Downey Jr. one with the Tobey Maguire cameo is pretty damned amusing as well.

One thing that really struck me is how great looking this movie is. They obviously had a sizable production budget and they put it to good use, because it's rare that you see such big explosions and nice location shoots with a comedy. There are plenty of shots where this looks like a real war movie, which is of course exactly what they're going for. But far more than being a simple parody of war movies (and believe me, it makes fun of some of the more familiar cliches in hilarious ways), it's a brilliant satire of the ridiculous nature of Hollywood. I'm sure most of you have heard by now of Tom Cruise's role as an arrogant, brutish movie producer. Now, I'm no Tom Cruise fan (him being a crazy scientologist and all), but I have to admit that he did a fine job in this role (I heard that it was based on a real producer that he didn't get along with).

This is probably the best comedy I've seen in the theater this year (just barely edging out past Get Smart, and if you like any of the three main actors, you are sure to enjoy this film. It's also without a doubt the best movie that Stiller has directed, so if you enjoyed Zoolander or The Cable Guy, you should definitely check this one out!

Overall rating: WholeWholeWholeWhole
(Scored on a 0.5 - 5 pickles rating: 0.5 being the worst and 5 being the best)

Reader Comments

1.21 Gigawatts!!!
Aug 19th, 2008, 09:11 AM
The only main criticism that I have for the movie is that it floundered a little bit. It kind of became somewhat of a jumbled mess when it tried to mix character development with being funny. The plot started getting a little weak at this point and you started to wonder where this story was actually going.

Having said that, I felt that the movie was pretty funny overall. This is especially the case with Robert Downey, Jr. who played the character with perfection. The cleverest ploy used in the movie would definitely have to be the trailers. It was the best way to sum up what each of the actors was about and poke fun at each of the movie genres.
1.21 Gigawatts!!!
Aug 19th, 2008, 09:16 AM
I also have to agree about the comment with Jack Black. Half the movie I could not tell if he had gotten rabies from the bat or if he was in withdrawal. Only near the end, did it start coming together. Still there were a lot of scenes where he would be freaking out and then be completely lucid, almost looking bored two seconds later.
Forum Virgin
Aug 19th, 2008, 09:46 AM
Never go full on retard.

And wow, Robert Downey Jr. - Iron Man and then this. What the hell can't he do?
Pickled Patriarch
Aug 19th, 2008, 01:24 PM
Ok, I have to chime in on this one because I definitely don't think it's worthy of a 4 pickle rating. First, lemme talk about what IS good about the movie.

Yes, as everybody has talked about recently, Robert Downey Jr. is absolutely fantastic in the movie and he is easily the big showstealer here. As funny as his character is, it's the fake trailer of his with Tobey Maguire at the beginning of the film that I honestly thought was the funniest thing in the movie. Another nice surprise was Nick Nolte's role in the film as a pseudo Vietnam vet... I really wish he had more to do in it because he was a badass. Also noteworthy, believe it or not, is Tom Cruise. Watching him yell on the phone like a raving lunatic is definitely fun, though his character does tend to get old after a while.

Now for the bad. As good as Robert Downey Jr. is, 90% of what he does that's funny has already been in every commercial/trailer that you've seen. So that right there was extremely disappointing. Ben Stiller's role is ok in parts (such as the homage to Platoon with his hands flailing in the air), but for the most part he doesn't really add anything to the film. The biggest disappointment, as Proto already mentioned, is Jack Black. I like Jack Black a lot and think he's an excellent physical comedian when given the opportunity... but goddamn, they really didn't use him to his potential in this.

Now I knew lots of people would love this movie regardless, and believe me... I really wanted to... but I barely laughed at all through the entire film. For all the brilliance that is Downey Jr., most of the gags fall completely flat. So four pickles? No way... 2.5 at best (and that's being generous). If you want to see a truly funny comedy in theaters right now, I'd suggest checking out Step Brothers, because that movie IS filled with great laughs, which really surprised me since I wasn't expecting much from it at all.
Jason's a Furry! Run!
Aug 19th, 2008, 01:58 PM
I disagree, I thought it was a hilarious movie. Jack Black was a bit of a downer, yes (except, as Proto pointed out, the part where he's tied to a tree), but I loved all the other actors. And the bits with the studio boss were especially hilarious (his insult on the phone is one if the biggest laughs in the film, I think). And the full retard bit was great, in my opinion.

Really, the only problem I had with this movie was the fake trailers. They were good for a laugh or two, but overall nothing special (nothing that touches the awesomeness of the fake trailers in Grindhouse, that's for sure).
Pickleman's Uncle
Aug 19th, 2008, 04:27 PM
I was tipsy when I went to see it and had to pee like MAD for the entire duration of the movie. I only remember like half of it, but the best part is by FAR the beginning of the movie, with the fake trailers.
Which was also by FAR the best thing about GrindHouse.

So whoever wants to make a 2 hour sequence of awesome trailers and fake commercials, you're damn welcome.

Also the best comedic war movie ever made is Hot Shots: Part Deux. It will remain unbeatable until the ends of time.
Aug 19th, 2008, 06:08 PM
I'm heading out this weekend to see it. It better no disappoint.
Pickled Patriarch
Aug 19th, 2008, 09:40 PM
Originally Posted by Poxpower View Post
Also the best comedic war movie ever made is Hot Shots: Part Deux. It will remain unbeatable until the ends of time.
Ah the days when parody movies were done right... now we have shite like "Epic Movie" and "Disaster Movie" instead. I can't believe I didn't mention Hot Shots: Part Deux, because yes, I've always absolutely loved that flick. Topper Harley rules.

"WAR. IT'S FANTASTIC!" -Commander Arvid Harbinger
Aug 20th, 2008, 11:00 AM
I just watched this off the net and I am glad I didn't pay to go to a theater. What a chickenshit copout of a movie, Ben Stiller fucking sucks.
As u wish...
Aug 21st, 2008, 01:10 AM
lemme add-in...i liked it more that i'd care to admit, sorry...BUT i think a main draw back is the audience needs to know a LITTLE obout "the industry" to seriously get the jokes...just enough...
Holy Diver
Aug 21st, 2008, 10:29 PM
What about the scene with the director and the mine? I was practically on the ground laughing at that. Granted I was the only one in the audience doing it...but still I can't be the only one...
What Video Games?
Aug 22nd, 2008, 11:21 AM
God, Hot Shots: Part Deux. So many crazy one-liners in that movie, such as:

"I will kill you until you die from it"
"We're gonna do this the old navy way. First one to die....loses!"
Pickled Patriarch
Aug 22nd, 2008, 11:32 AM
Indeed, and don't forget:

"These men have taken a supreme vow of celibacy, like their fathers, and their fathers before them..."


(Charlie and Martin Sheen passing each other) "I loved you in Wall Street!"
Sympathizes with the foo'
Aug 31st, 2008, 12:35 AM
I'm ready to see a comedy that A: isn't one of those stupid fucking "unfunny reference" movies that becomes dated the second it hits theaters (The "Leave Britney Alone" guy? Yeah, we remember him, but where's the joke?), and B: isn't made by Judd Apatow (Seth Rogen must have some dirty pictures of this guy; there's no other reason for that asshole to have a career). I'm going to check this one out.
Forum Virgin
Sep 1st, 2008, 04:53 PM
This hasn't come to Sweden yet... But I'm waiting for it. I thought it would be great since I read that stuff in some magazine about Ben Stiller's character trying to get an Oscar by playing a retard, but he goes TOO retarded, so it doesn't work, Oscar's only go to people who plays semi-retards. That's great!
I wonder if Stiller got inspired by his cameo in Extras...?